Neighbours Botswana and South Africa played to a 1-1 draw in their group A match of the Brazil 2014 World Cup qualifiers in Gaborone on Saturday afternoon. The visitors opened the lead14 minutes into the match breaking the hearts of a capacity crowd at the University of Botswana (UB) Stadium through defender Morgan Gould before Ofentse Nato levelled matters for the hosts seven minutes before halftime.
Gould, the Kaizer Chiefs bound defender headed home a Steven Piennar corner after he was left unchecked inside the box. The Zebras had the first chance of the match on the seventh minute when defender Ndiyapo Letsholathebe's powerful header deflected of the crossbar but Jerome Ramatlhakwana fluffed the rebound.
Nato would clear a goal-bound shot by Simphiwe Tshabalala on the line in the 12th minute but could not do anything to stop the visitors from opening the score two minutes later.
Botswana goal minder Kabelo Dambe saved striker Katlego Mphela's powerful shot from a few inches outside the box in the 16th minute. Botswana missed a golden opportunity to equalise a couple of minutes when there was confusion inside the Bafana goal area but the move ended up Ramatlhakwana going to ground.
The Bafana Bafana Defence were caught in another goal mouth melee towards the break but this time around Nato capitalised and found the equaliser tapping in a loose ball from inside the box.
The two sides went for the break tied at 1-1. Dambe was in fine form in the second half denying Tshabalala and saving a dangerous looking free kick by Mphela. Botswana winger Joel Mogorosi was causing trouble for South Africa left back Punch Masenamela resulting in the latter being booked and subsequently replaced by youngster Mashaba Maikayise just after the hour mark.
Bafana interim coach Steve Khompela roped in some fresh legs to try and alter the result in his team's favour but to no avail. Playmaker Teko Modise replaced Tshabalala who had become increasingly ineffective in the second half while young striker Tokelo Rantie was brought in for veteran Siyabonga Nomvete.
The absence of key defensive midfielders Mogogi Gabonamong and Boitumelo Mafoko disrupted Botswana coach Stanley Tshosane's ultra defensive game plan especially in the last quarter of the match when Bafana Bafana pushed numbers forward in midfield with Oupa Manyisa, Modise and Piennar dictating terms.
Tshosane also brought in three attackers in the half sacrificing midfielder Patrick Motsepe for striker Pako Moloi who partnered Ramatlhakwana upfront with Moemedi Moatlhaping also coming behind them after replacing injured Mogakolodi Ngele.
Following the draw, Botswana has now only collected one point after playing two matches in the qualifiers while South Africa have two points after drawing their opening match against Ethiopia with the same margin.